Jan. 4, 2010
Ashley Walker, Texas Media Relations
Filling the shoes of Texas kicking standouts like Phil Dawson, Raul Allegre, Russell Erxleben and Dusty Mangum isn’t easy, but senior Hunter Lawrence has proven he is up for the task.
Knowing the storied history of the success of former Longhorns kickers, Lawrence is honored to be mention among the elite list. But the challenge becomes slightly more feasible when you’re close with high quality kickers throughout the country and have former Horns like Dawson to look up to.
“I really respect all of those guys that were before me,” Lawrence said. “They’re great guys and obviously great kickers, so to be included with them would be an awesome feeling. It seems like everyone here has been really good.”
Dawson in particular has made a career out of the position, something Lawrence aspires to do, as he has been successful on the NFL level for the last 11 years, playing his first season with the New England Patriots before joining his current Cleveland Browns squad in 1999.
“Phil Dawson is really living the dream by kicking in the NFL,” Lawrence said. “He’s kicked for a long time, made it his job and done it for at least 15 years, so that would definitely be my dream.”
Luckily for Lawrence, he was able to get some advice on what it takes to be a highly successful kicker and join the elite Texas alumni corps from his role model himself just one year ago when Dawson attended one of the Longhorns' Fiesta Bowl practices.
“Meeting Phil Dawson was a really cool experience,” Lawrence added. “It was great to get the chance to get to know him besides just seeing him on the field. He came to visit with us and told us about the NFL and what to expect up there.
“He also emphasized that the best thing to do when you’re about to kick is to just stay calm, stay relaxed and don’t get too up or too down.”
As simple as that sounds, it's advice that has paid off for Lawrence, who just a month ago kicked the game-winning field goal in the Longhorns Big 12 Championship victory with only one second left on the clock. It is a moment that is almost sure to place him in Longhorns lore with the likes of Mangum, who kicked the Horns’ game winning field goal in the 2005 Rose Bowl as time expired.
Over the course of four years at UT, Lawrence has already etched his name into the Texas records as he has converted 32-of-37 field goal attempts while recording a 120-of-121 PAT mark. He ranks first on Texas’ career list with his .865 field goal percentage and first with his .992 PAT accuracy.
A Lou Groza Award semifinalist in 2009, Lawrence has not only been able to look up to former Longhorns, but is also connected to a group of other collegiate kickers throughout the nation who he met at various kicking camps over the last couple of years.
“I’m close with a bunch of the kickers around the country, which is pretty cool because we text and talk about kicking quite a bit,” Lawrence said. “Like Kai Forbath from UCLA who won the Lou Groza award this year, I was texting and talking to him congratulating him afterward. It’s pretty fun to be in touch with them. Everybody knows everybody. It’s a small world.”
With his final game as a Longhorn just a few days away when Texas faces Alabama in the BCS National Title game, the kicker will have one final stage to leave his mark on an already stellar career.
“Being out here in California for the national championship has been fun and a great experience,” Lawrence said. “It’s taken four years so it has taken a long time to get here. This is my first national championship and I couldn’t be more excited.”